REimagine home decor into functional works of art

REimagine Tip: All About House Paint


It’s no secret that I love to paint.  I paint pretty much everything: furniture, walls, cabinets, pictures, my nails…  With a lifetime of experience (I started painting the barns on our farm as a child, and more recently 11 years of painting apartments every month as a property manager) I get asked a lot of questions about the basics of painting at home.  What brand of paint do you recommend?  What sheen should I use for my dining room?  Do I have to prime? What shade of grey should I use in my house? (Oh, wait, that one I already answered here!) The list goes on…

I’m happy to share my knowledge and expertise on the subject whenever I’m asked, but to make things simpler, I’m going to answer all those paint 101 questions and a few more here in one place.   That way, when you are ready to get started on your own painting project you can look right here for answers to all your questions!

What brand do you recommend?

I should preface this by explaining that this blog is not sponsored, nor do we allow any advertising on it.  The following are solely my own opinions and observations.

Ok, moving on…

My answer to this is typically “Anything but Behr.  My personal favorite is Benjamin Moore but Valspar and Sherwin Williams are also good options.”

Behr paint is just the worst. In my opinion, it’s either too thin and runs too easily (basic Behr Premium Plus semi gloss for trim) or too thick (Behr Marquee paint and primer in one).   BEWARE of products that guarantee they will paint and prime in just ONE easy coat.  I would insert a unicorn here if I could.  I’ll tell you a secret: it’s not possible!  One of the basics rules of painting that I have been taught over and over and over is: “It’s better to do two light coats than one heavy coat.”  BINGO!  Definitely true for spray paint, also true for house paint. In the case of Behr’s Marquee line it means the paint is going to be THICK and GLOOPY in order to attempt a one coat coverage.  Imagine painting with pudding.  Too thick and gloopy means unevenness and that it wants to sag once it’s on the wall,  which in turn means you have to be very careful to go back over your work every few minutes to look for runs.   If you wait a millisecond too long it has already begun to set up and when you run your roller across it to smooth the sag, it pulls back up the layer of paint you just put down leaving you with one uneven coat which ultimately needs to be second coated to cover the flaws of the first. UGHHH! Maybe you like drips in your paint, but I prefer a consistent, smooth, suede-like surface with no drips or splotches to catch my eye.

Overall I enjoy using almost every Benjamin Moore paint product I’ve worked with.  Even their basic contractor grade paint (Ultra Spec) is excellent, in fact it’s what I go back to time and time again.   It has excellent two coat coverage, consistency and price.  Our local Benjamin Moore retail stores are enjoyable to shop in, too, and are staffed with true experts on paint which can come in super handy when I’m painting something new and have a question!  All around, I don’t think you can go wrong with Benjamin Moore.

Sherwin Williams is quite a bit pricier than Benjamin Moore, and I find that sometimes the paint streaks noticeably and almost appears a different color where the brushwork meets the rolling.  Even with a second coat this problem does not always correct itself.  This is especially true with shades of green.  They do carry an awesome water based sealing primer that will cover and seal in knots on bare wood such as knotty pine.  This is particularly a bonus because until I learned of that product the only thing I knew of that would definitely seal those pesky knots from bleeding through eight billion layers of primer and paint was oil based BIN by Zinsser.  Oil based paint is just not fun for anyone.  It stinks to high heck, is expensive, and you can’t clean up with water.

Valspar is pretty solid paint and I like that it’s easily accessed without a trip to a specialty store, which makes it a prime choice for the DIY crowd.  Get the vanity and get the paint all in one place!  It has good, even, two coat coverage. I don’t have as much experience with it as I do the Behr, Ben Moore and Sherwin, but what I have used I have been mostly satisfied with.  Their “eggshell” could be called “satin” in my opinion, so I typically stick with their flat or semi gloss paints.  Which brings me to the next question:

What sheen should I use?

Generally speaking paint is offered in 5 sheens and here they are in order of shininess:

  • Matte/Flat
  • Eggshell
  • Satin
  • Semi Gloss
  • Gloss

Each sheen has its place and its pros and cons.  Here are the highlights you need to know:

Matte/Flat- It’s great for walls especially uneven walls such as plaster because it hides imperfections.  Generally speaking, matte/flat paint cannot be washed so is best for lower traffic rooms.  Some brands are now touting washable flat paint but I don’t yet have much experience with them.  I plan to put that in every room of my home starting NOW.  “Ceiling paint” is just flat white.  Color change ceiling paint changes color from pale pink to white as it dries which is really helpful because it’s easy to miss spots when painting ceilings which are usually white on white.

Eggshell-Standard for walls in halls, bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms.  It’s washable and has a slight reflective quality to it. Because of the reflective qualities it can emphasize imperfections rather than help hide them.

Satin-Good option for trim.  Washable. Not too shiny but not quite as soft as eggshell.

Semi Gloss- Also a good option for trim and what I usually recommend. Easily washable, and the obvious change in sheen delineates the trim from the wall.

Gloss- Can’t say that I have ever purchased glossy paint to paint any part of the home. It is the shiniest of all and is washable, but I don’t recommend it for painting any part of a house except maybe the numbers!

Do I have to prime?

Not usually.  If you are going over a very bold color, yes.  If you have bare, unpainted sheetrock, yes.  If you have a water stain or water damage yes, and you MUST do so with oil based primer or the spot will just bleed right back through and you will soon find yourself repeating lines from Macbeth as you paint coat after coat after coat. If you are painting wood that has never been painted before, yes.  Again, most paints now tout that they are paint and primer in one.  In the above situations a separate primer coat is necessary.

How much paint should I get?

You will want enough paint for two coats.  Yes, two. Even if it’s paint and primer in one and claims to cover in one coat.  After the first coat dries go back and look for splotches and missed spots.  Usually a light second coat is all that’s needed to finish the job.  For an average 12 by 14 bedroom I estimate two gallons of wall paint and a quart of trim paint.  Some factors can change that such as if the walls are very high or there is a lot of trim like wainscot or a window seat to name a few.  Always err on the side of too much, because if you go back for a second can you run the risk that the mix won’t be an absolute perfect match if it’s mixed on a different machine on a different date and you will end up repainting a whole wall.  If you end up with an extra gallon you can use it in a different room or save it for when you need to touch up.

Freshly remodeled office space ready for paint

Brand new office space after priming and two coats of paint

What tools or other materials should I have on hand for my paint job?

You will absolutely need a small ladder, roller frame, roller cover (I like the microfiber woven roller covers because they do not shed and leave little hairs in the wet paint.  They are worth the minimal extra cost!) paint tray and paint brush.  Also necessary are drop cloths to protect the floors and anything else around where you are working from paint splatter and drips (save yourself a lot of money and use old heavy sheets, curtains, or blankets!)   A tube of caulk for filling cracks and gaps around trim is indispensable for a professional looking result.  Painters tape is helpful if you are a newbie, but once you get the hang of cutting in with a brush and a steady hand, you will quickly realize the tape is way more trouble than it’s worth.  It is expensive, time consuming, doesn’t stick well, paint seeps under and when it’s removed it often tears and leaves little shreds of blue along the edge or worse takes chunks of the new paint with it…. I use tape as a last resort.

Get your room ready by removing as much furniture and possessions as possible.  The job will be much more efficient if you don’t have to stop every few minutes to move around things or move things out of the way.  Things in the way make trip hazards and paint and tripping don’t mix.  Take off all the outlet covers, fill any nail holes, caulk any gaps or cracks, put down your drop cloths and you’re ready to go!

I hope this information helps you tackle your next painting project, but if you decide it’s just TOO MUCH TROUBLE, contact us here for a quote!  As you now know, I love to paint!

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